May 11 2011

#11 “Cheshire Wolf”

From a stranger in Chicago, Illinois.

I have always been intrigued by the concept of genuinely fearing something while simultaneously enjoying it. Some people would argue that this is inherently impossible, but I would beg to differ. Otherwise, how would one explain the continued success of writers like Stephen King or any form of entertainment labeled as “horror”? Most people who are patrons of this type of art genuinely enjoy it. They actually like the fact that these things are creepy and scary, and the truth is that there is a little bit of this within all of us. I don’t know why this is (I suppose it has something to do with catharsis), but I do know that it is true.

I also remember my first experience with this complex combination of emotions. I was a child, and I was watching the animated Disney film Alice in Wonderland. No single image in the entire movie stood out to me quite as much as the Cheshire Cat: the insane toothy grin, the floating and disappearing appendages, the darkly wild color combination of purples, reds and those yellow eyes. Then, after I took in the creature visually, it spoke in that ominously playful tone, and it said, “Why, we’re all mad here.”

At that young age, I honestly could not decipher whether this creature was something out of my wildest dreams or my most terrifying nightmares. I was dumbfounded. I loved that cat, but it scared the crap out of me. When I look at this particular wolf image on display above, I’m transported back to that childhood experience. I’m not sure why this is, really. I don’t find the this picture particularly frightening, but it somehow encapsulates an element of the surreal that is difficult to grasp but is also genuinely appealing and certainly imaginative; and in the end, that was the appeal of the Cheshire Cat all along.

 


May 10 2011

#10 “Kinky DeWolf”

From Natasia in Alameda, California

Why is it that when I think back to my childhood some of the most sexually charged images that come to mind seem to feature wolves? I know it sounds strange, and I can’t necessarily name a particular character or a certain episode of any specific program, but I can clearly see this image in my mind’s eye: A scantily clad redhead is performing on a stage in a dimly lit theatre. The audience spread out before her is comprised of people smoking cigars, seated at circular tables which are only slightly illuminated by small yellow lamps in the center, the glow of which is faint and sexy.

There in the back of the theatre a cartoon wolf appraises the scene. He notices the woman on the stage. Perhaps she winks at him. At that moment, the most hyperbolic of all reactions simultaneously overtake the wolf. He begins shaking and running in place. His tongue droops heavily from between his fanged teeth while his eyes bolt sharply from their sockets. Then, after a brief moment of composure is regained, a howl is released from the lungs of the creature that signifies a deep sexual longing.

And that’s all. That’s the image from my childhood. No plot. No story. Just this one image. I wasn’t even sure if this memory was real or fabricated until I found the additional picture that is featured below. I remember thinking when I was a child that it must be ok for me to watch this; it was a cartoon after all, but it was also overtly sexual, and that meant it was dangerous and taboo.

What I didn’t really pay much attention to at the time, however, was the wolf. Why did the wolf so often seem to be the overt symbol for sexual longing? Was it his wildness? His savagery? His inherent ferocity and lack of restraint?

I’m not sure. But I am surely grateful to Natasia for this illustration that transports me back to such a more innocent albeit confusing time. I love this wolf’s classy yet creepy appearance and his cool but ominous demeanor. And of course, I love the fact that the attention is now directed towards me, the collector of wolf pictures from strangers. It’s a valid question: Have I become the lustful lobo of my youth?


May 9 2011

#9 “Devil’s Plaything”

 

From Daniel

I suggest examining this wolf and reading the attached commentary while listening to the Danzig song, “Devil’s Plaything.” It will no doubt put you in the properly fearful and demented state of mind necessary in order to study this illustration.

Images of this wolf, one of the first that I received, still haunt my dreams in the dark, still hours of the night. When I laid eyes upon this demonic creature belched from the very bowels of Hell, I questioned my drive to continue in this project altogether. How could I have known that such abrasive creatures would accost my sight and pluck out my very eyes? How could I have anticipated this visual horror?

Now don’t be deceived, my words here are not meant to suggest that Daniel is not a talented artist. In fact, I believe just the opposite to be true. He is indeed a gifted illustrator, and this is the very fact that terrifies me, for it appears that he has studied some concoction of the dark arts that has inevitably lead to the creation of this devil wolf, this fiendish monster, this abomination of the lupine world.

Examine if you dare of the blazing eyes, reminiscent of William Blake’s Tyger, burning bright in the forest of the night. Allow me to draw your attention to the razor sharp fangs, fit only to tear the flesh from a screaming, terrified human prey. Take witness, if you have the courage, of the nakedness of the lupine scalp. Where are the ears? Were they scorched clean off this wolf’s skull by the flames of Hades? Only the devil, himself, knows for sure.

My only wish for you, my friends, is deliverance from this evil image before it is burned into your brain for all of eternity. But, if you do have the fortitude to examine this demonic creature in depth, then perhaps you may also wish to ponder the words of William Blake alluded to earlier. Good night, dear reader, and for Heaven’s sake, good luck.

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?


May 8 2011

#8 “Oh, Grandma, what big teeth you have…”

In honor of Mother’s Day, this wolf comes to us from Helen, the mother of the the talented artist, Charlotte, who gave us our very first post.

The intensity of the bond between a mother and child is a topic that is not very hotly debated in today’s society and culture. Almost everyone agrees that a mother and child share a unique connection, the strength of which is nearly beyond scientific understanding. This is just the way things work. Mothers love their children instinctually, but also fervently, intentionally and with a deep, inflexible will.

There are, of course, the random, disturbing stories that detail the gruesome events of a child’s death at the hands of his or her mother; but the very reason why those stories strike such a chilling chord with us is because these incidents are so fundamentally opposed to everything we know about the purity and innate goodness of the mother/child relationship.

This corruption of purity is what makes this particular illustration, and the story from which it takes its inspiration, so inherently alarming. In fact, when you really think about it, some of the most disturbing images in pop culture for the last 30 or 40 years deal in some way with an object or idea that is supposed to be pure and innocent but has somehow been twisted and corrupted.

Take these examples for instance:

Many of the events in the movies of the Poltergeist series
The Child’s Play films featuring the demonic doll “Chuckie”
The movie Children of The Corn based on the short story by Stephen King
Stephen King’s It, featuring a terrifyingly evil clown
The Omen in which a young boy named Damien is the spawn of Satan

Turning our attention to the wolf in this particular drawing, we now understand that it is not necessarily the pointed fangs or gaping maw that make this lascivious lupine so disturbing. No, my friends, it is the pure and wholesome features that are tainted by the savagery of this creature that create the disquietude felt by this illustration. It is the brightly colored bow, the shower-cap-like bonnet, the perfectly blue eyes, the wire-rimmed glasses so often associated with “little old ladies.” Simply put… it is the idea that your very own grandmother may possibly be planning to send you to an early grave instead of baking chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen.

So, in closing, make sure to give your sweet little mother a kiss on the cheek today, but don’t take your hand off your holster, and just remember….

They’re heeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee….

 


May 7 2011

#7 “Lucha Libre”


From Simon in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The sport of lucha libre is not one that I am especially knowledgable about, but I do find it to be quite interesting. Let’s be honest, any activity that involves donning a mask but that also seems to strictly forbid wearing a shirt is bound to be intriguing.

In doing a little research on lucha libre, I discovered a few details about the “máscaras” that the brave wrestlers wear, and through my study I have come to believe that this illustration is attempting to make some important statements through the use of this mysterious athletic accessory.

It seems that the wearing of masks in Mexican culture has a historical significance that dates back all the way to the ancient Aztecs. However, when they were first introduced into the lucha libre, their function was relatively simple: they often merely distinguished one wrestler from another through various color schemes. Over the years, though, the masks began to symbolize certain features or character traits of the opposing wrestlers and often were often meant to call to mind images of animals, gods, or ancient heroes.

When we examine specifically the idea of a wolf sporiting one of these máscaras, we must ask ourselves what image or idea the wolf is attempting to evoke. In other words, if a man dons the mask to bring to mind a wolf, what thoughts does the wolf want to induce through wearing the mask?

Here are some of my personal theories about the mask’s significance:

This illustration suggests that there is more hiding underneath the surface of the wolf’s exterior than meets the eye. We think we know the animal, but do we really? What lies beneath?

This picture represents the carnal identity that every man engaged in sport is attempting to take on. By competing against one another, man is transformed into beast.

Could it be that this illustration is suggesting that we are all really animals underneath the “masks” that we wear as members of a “civilized” society?

Or does this picture suggest that we are pitted against the wolf in a battle of survival on this earth? Is this picture perhaps a plea to the viewer to realize that we have made an opponent of our lupine brethren?

Despite the accuracy or inaccuracy of these interpretations, one thing does remain clear, and that is the fact that this illustration is mind-numbingly awesome. I really must offer my most earnest thanks to Simon for contributing this piece; it is truly one of the most unique and creative works I have received. I have a feeling that this young man is going to go far.

Keep up the good work, my friend.

 


May 6 2011

#6 “Happy Birthday Jared”

From Jared

Recently, as the Easter holiday began to approach, I took it upon myself to advertise WBS by placing miniature flyers inside of small, colorful plastic eggs and hiding them in strategic locations about town. I began placing the eggs a couple of weeks before Easter Sunday, but I was especially excited about the ones that I had distributed on the actual weekend of the holiday because I believed that many unsuspecting individuals would find an egg on the very day of Easter. What I hadn’t considered, though, was that certain people might discover an egg on another day of importance, such as a birthday.

This exact scenario did in fact happen with a boy named Jared. After receiving Jared’s email and artwork, I was especially pleased and grateful to also see that he mentioned this project on his own personal blog which you can access here. I will openly admit that I am a huge fan of this illustration, and one of the reasons why is because it inadvertently brings up an interesting issue: the idea of whether or not animal aging is linked to notions such as maturity, progression and accomplishment.

As humans it seems that we tend to value another person’s birthday because that person is not just another year older but also another year wiser, another year “better.” We congratulate the individual for enduring the hardships and struggles of life and for making it through another 365 days on this earth unscathed. We view this as an achievement of sorts, and we inherently believe that when a person ages one full year, something substantial, although perhaps intangible, is gained.

My question is not whether this notion is true or false or whether we are fooling ourselves into accepting our forever declining vitality with conical hats and sugary icing. My question is whether or not animals share any semblance of this same concept. My gut tells me “no,” but for some reason I want to believe “yes.” But perhaps I’m just trying to humanize the animal. Perhaps it’s best if the question remains unanswered.

 


May 5 2011

#5 “Graphic Wolves”

From Dale, a graphic designer in Canada.

When I first laid eyes upon these wolves, I was astounded by their beauty and the innate talent that Dale must possess in order to create them. Dale told me in his email that these lifelike depictions are of his own design, and I therefore believe him, but it is still a mystery to me how one goes about constructing authentically beautiful work of this caliber. I have spent as much or more time examining the specific shapes and lines that make up these amazing wolves as I have for just about any other illustration I have received.

However, the more that I studied these wolves, the more I began to wonder why they so readily captivated my attention and seemed to impress me more than certain other pictures of the very same subject matter. In time, I was prompted to ask certain age-old questions about the nature of art and why it is that we appreciate any particular sculpture, painting, or photograph more than another.

Consider these questions: is it originality and uniqueness that cause us to value a piece of art? Or should works that more accurately represent the true nature of life take center stage? Should we praise the surreal? Or pay tribute to the authentic? Do we need to “understand” art in order to appreciate it? Or is art most valuable when its nature is mysterious?

The answers to these queries are ones that are forever swirling around in a frenzy of debate. I remember reading a quote about the nature of art at one time that I quite liked. It went something like this: “Art is what rich people have that allows them feel better than everybody else.” Now, I’m not saying that I necessarily agree with this sentiment. In fact, there is part of me that feels that this person was possibly picked on too much as a child and developed some sort of inferiority complex or exaggerated chip on his shoulder. Maybe he simply wasn’t rich enough for his own liking. But he does bring up a good point, for it seems that much of the reason why many people express such strong views about what is art and what is not art is because they believe that art is somehow intrinsically related to social or economic success. Even if we don’t own any art ourselves, if we can recognize it, it must mean that we are successful. Who knows whether or not this is really the case, but let me say this: with wolves like these in my possession, I consider myself a millionaire.

Thanks again, Dale.

 


May 4 2011

#4 “Je na sais quoi”

 

From Bobbie in Canada

Sometimes a relatively simple picture possesses certain unidentifiable qualities that bring it to life. Such is the case with the illustration of this particular wolf. Many people might assume that the wolf drawings that strike the deepest chord with the viewer would be those that depict the wolf anthropomorphically, or in such a manner that the creature seems to take on human traits or characteristics. There is a certain logic in this. However, in the piece on display today, one will notice that the artist has made no overt attempt to bestow any particular human qualities onto the pictured wolf, and yet there is still something about this animal that makes him distinctly “human” in some intangible way.

I’m not sure if this is caused by the wolf’s steady gave, the exact angle and shape of the mouth and lips, the precise posturing, or a combination of all of these elements, but I do know there is simply something about this piece that speaks to me and says that this wolf possesses a level of awareness that reaches beyond that of your average beast of the field.

This may be a bit of an odd connection, but this illustration reminds me of a cartoon by Gary Larson which is on display below. Notice the facial expression of the dog in this picture. In truth, this animal is really not doing anything, but once again there is a quality in his countenance that displays a true sense of understanding and even pride. Something akin to this is taking place in this wolf picture. I can’t say for sure what it is; I only know that it is there, and this undefinable feature is (in my mind) an indicator of true art.

 

 


May 3 2011

#3 “Lupine Blues”

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From Craig via WBS email

While examining this piece, please feel free to check out the Lightnin’ Hopkins’ version of “Katie Mae” below. I feel that this song is the perfect accompaniment for this fine work of art.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been an enthusiast of the blues genre. Some of the artists that I value most include Arthur “Big Boy” Grudup, Big Bill Broonzy, Hound Dog Taylor, John Lee Hooker, T-Model Ford, Lonnie Johnson, and (of course) the famously mysterious Robert Johnson.

The blues have always appealed to me for primarily two reasons: (1) I love the relatively simple but beautiful construction of the songs and (2) the emotive quality of the lyrics and tone of the blues singers’ voice often allows the listener to accompany the singer on a unique emotional journey.

In my mind, this wolf is an artistic representation of everything I love about the blues. The poignant facial expression of the wolf, with its eyes closed and mouth curled into a somber tunnel ready to produce a mournful cry, is reminiscent of Robert Johnson’s wailing in “Phonograph Blues,” and yet something about the facial posturing is also comparable to the refined and dignified poise of B.B. King. The disheveled appearance of the wolf’s fur, created by the unique color combinations and somewhat scratchy markings of the crayons, are comparable to the appearance of Sonny Boy Williams on the cover of his 1959 album “Down and Out Blues.” And finally the sun shining in the background of the illustration can draw out comparisons between this piece and Leadbelly’s version of the old spiritual song “Outshine the Sun.”

Congratulations , Craig, on creating a truly soul-stirring piece. I know that this work of art has found fertile ground in at least one soul. Please allow me to say in closing that I wish I had more insight to offer about this fantastically bluesy wolf, but right now I believe it’s time I dust my broom.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPjd_oQby_c]

 


May 2 2011

#2 “The Anthro”

From Mariah

The anthropomorphic wolf is an intriguing figure. This creature fuses the features of man and beast seamlessly into a deliciously wild blend of the most paramount characteristics of each being. In this case the combination of qualities encompasses lupine lust and human humility. As a result, what I find most intriguing about this particular wolf is located both above and below the belt.

Let’s start from the top.

Notice the coy smile resting playfully on this savage creature’s countenance. As is the case with all wolves, this subtle grin suggests something hidden beneath the surface, some secret yet to be revealed, some mystery of the universe held within in the paws of an animal more closely related to our nurturing Mother Earth. What is indicated by this mischievous smirk may never be known, but I feel that it is important to point out that this overt display of emotion is one of the primary characteristics that helps to establish this being as both physically lupine but also inherently human.

Turning our gaze southwards, one obvious aspect of this illustration cannot be overlooked: the not-so-subtle bit of foliage which conceals this wolf’s nether regions. The question here is whether it was the will of the artist or that of the imaginary wolf, itself, that was the driving force behind this intriguing detail. Ultimately, we are left with two distinct possibilities: (1) the artist chose to conceal this wolf’s lustful regions out of a sense of duty and responsibility to protect the young eyes and immature psyches of this blog’s more innocent enthusiasts or (2) the anthropomorphic nature of the wolf calls for the modesty displayed in the picture due to the simple fact that as humans (which this wolf partly is), sexual self-consciousness is innately part of the human condition. Either way, this wolf is both wild and domestic, both liberated and tame. He is truly an anthro-wolf.

In closing, consider this question: Could the demure smile and the strategically placed fig leaf work together to present a larger statement about the transcendental nature of humility and modesty throughout all of nature? Only this wolf and his talented illustrator know for sure.

Thanks again, Mariah.

 


May 1 2011

#1 “Child’s Play”

From Charlotte in the UK…

Is it stretching the limits of human decency to compare the mind of an innocent child to that of a ferocious wolf? Is it insensitive or perhaps distasteful to draw parallels between a small, guiltless babe and a brutal killing machine reared in the savage wilds?

I think not.

Examine this argument if you will: Both child and wolfkin reside largely in a world in which each is driven by its own instincts and inherent values. The child, for lack of a better term, simply is what it is; and the same is the case with the wolf. Both creatures are governed by an inborn compass that is seemingly predetermined by a divine intervention that is beyond the comprehension of man. The child (in the early stages of its development) cannot be anything other that what it is. It has not yet learned to deceive, to lie, to employ ulterior motives for selfish gain. It acts on instinct alone, as does the wolf throughout its entire life.

Now, one may argue the wolf is, in fact, the opposite of the child in that the wolf is the master of deception and slyness; but no one can dispute that this fact is actually in accordance with the inherent nature of the beast. Therefore, the argument that both wolf and child do share a common bond in their ability to allow instinct to serve as a primary guide is sound.

With that fact being firmly established, is it not reasonable to expect that perhaps the truest artistic representation of a wolf may come from the hand of an infant? Examine these illustrations by a young girl named Charlotte from the UK and decide for yourself.

Overall I believe these illustrations represent the figure of the wolf beautifully. This is largely due to the stunning union that the artist creates in marrying savagery with beauty. Notice the wildness of the pen strokes; observe their random and unpredictable nature. In some respects, they appear to be more the work of a wolf itself with claws made of crayons than that of a child. The markings accurately present the beast as untamed and frenzied. The very utensils used to draw the wolves have run amuck on the page, clearly in a manner that could only be described as wild. However, there is also a beauty in this madness. For the true splendor of the wolf may often be found within its violence. Its savagery is by definition its exquisiteness. Examine the explosion of color in the first illustration. Is it not a sight to behold?

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t fear these wolves because of their crazed appearance, love and accept them for the duality they offer.